For the first time in Branford schools' history, the annual will be harnessed to kick off Branford Reads, the summer reading program. During the weekend, the festival will also help raise funds and encourage students to get started reading on the right page.
On the Saturday of the festival weekend, the Branford Education Foundation, a partner in the summer reading program, and the will set up a table in front of the BOE offices at 1111 Main St., to promote reading. They will hand out hundreds of mostly elementary-level books donated by Branford-based and promote the start of Branford Reads, the summer reading program.
On Sunday, runners of the annual Branford Road Race are encouraged to strike the pavement in support of Branford Reads as well. In addition to the race registration price (pre-registration: $12-$26), runners are encouraged to donate to the Branford Reads program. The proceeds will be used by the BEF to provide summer book bags, which will include books and activities for students struggling with reading. Additonally, the BEF will be purchasing Kindles for one top reader from each elementary school and the middle school as well as medals and awards for top readers from each grade, to be given out next year after summer reading is complete.
In addition to promoting the start of Branford Reads during Festival weekend, the BOE and the BEF are working to collaborate for a mid-summer reading event to bring the community together around an evening of reading much like their winter event, held at the this past year.
Rallying the town around reading and its importance is something both the BEF and the BOE are passionate about. Schools’ Assistant Superintendent Mary Peraro said, “Like running or exercise… it’s something we keep having to tell the public that this is good for their kids.”
Though Peraro said that summer reading sucsess rates have improved since she started with Branford schools six years ago, there’s still many parents who don’t encourage it. “It’s planting a seed with parents and kids that we value summer reading. We still have a component of the parent population in Branford who don’t feel reading is important over the summer,” she said.
At the elementary level, Peraro said about 50 to 60 percent of students are participating in summer reading and finishing at least five books, none of which are required reads but suggested from a list (2012 summer reading will be posted soon). Six years ago, Peraro said that number was 40 percent.
Peraro is adamant that the school should not require specific reads for elementary students but rather a specific number of books instead. The goal, she said, is to get kids to read in general. Elementary-level students are required to read a minimum of five books of their choice over the summer.
Active parent who has two students at and one at recently attended a summer reading meeting and commented that she believed requiring certain books might encourage more reading. As a concerned parent and the recent recipient of the Connecticut Association of Schools Distinguished Friends of Education Award, Barnett was able to offer many suggestions for future summer reading initiatives. Have some suggestions? Add them to the comments section below.
Ultimately, Peraro said, “We can’t punish kids for not reading. Many parents, especially of middle school students… it’s a hassle for them to make the kids read.”
Students of WIS and have required summer reads in addition to completing any optional reading (check back for the 2012 summer reading lists).
Tina O’Neill of the BEF and the organizer behind the very successful Glow Night, is excited about Branford Reads and pushing the reading agenda during the Festival. “Doing it as a community-based event, you allow families to be a part of it. A lot of this information during the school year is sent home with the students – they hear it in the classroom – but this kind of event allows parental families to support,” she said.
After the festival, the community can look to both the James Blackstone Memorial Library and the for summer reading support. In addition to stocking and offering books found on the suggested summer reading lists, the libraries will be hosting summer reading programs geared toward making reading fun. The JBML has already planned a science-based reading program to encourage students. Check back with Patch and on the library websites (JMBL and WWML) for more details on summer reading programs.
Don’t let your students reading go unnoticed! If your student excels this summer, let him or her tell the community about it by posting the news to the announcement section on Patch or have your student write a synopsis of the book. Patch will gladly feature the work on our home page to encourage more reading in the community!